Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Meet the Bartender

Hi! Rebecca M. Douglass here, author of “The Tide Waits” in the Tick Tock anthology, here to  share a bit about how and why I wrote my story.

In some ways, the answer is easy: I write cozy mysteries, among other things, so the IWSG anthology this year was a natural fit. I was sure I could do something good with the mystery prompt. Then I saw the part about the theme being clocks or time, and I wasn’t so sure. After all, clocks in murder mysteries were done to death so long ago they never even appear anymore, right? (I’d say from the stories in the anthology that there were still plenty of interesting mysteries to write about time!).
So the theme worried me a bit, and I knew I wanted to take a little different approach—to the mystery
or to the clock, or (as it turned out), to both. Since my PTA murder mysteries are set on Pismawallops Island, a pile of glacial leavings in the middle of Puget Sound, and because I grew up on a similar pile, my first thoughts ran to ferries and ferry schedules. That just wouldn’t gel in my mind, until I thought of the tides—the most important time-keeper for sea folk. That was when I remembered Lira.

Lira made her first appearance in a bit of flash fiction several years ago, tending bar in a village in an unspecified but not modern time and place. I liked that she is a woman in an unconventional job, and that she's competent and in control. I knew from that first story that Lira is the go-to problem solver for her village, making it natural that an old fisherman would turn to her when he finds a dead man.

Lira’s story was fun to write, as well as exasperating. The tide, which I have always taken for granted and would have said I understood well, proved more complex than expected, not to mention unwilling to cooperate with my narrative needs. It took a lot of edits to get it right (I hope), and many thanks to Jemima Pett, who helped me find the errors.

Take a quick look at Lira in action:

“Shut it, you sotted fool!”
“It’s th’ lord’s truth.” 
The thump of a blow cut off the too-loud declaration, and Lira looked up from the glass she had just filled. In the back corner of the bar, two shepherds lambasted one another drunkenly. Sighing, she handed the glass across to the blacksmith, and picked up the stout club she kept to maintain the peace. Crossing the room in three strides, Lira grabbed the loudmouth by the collar, and barred the second man from further attack with her weapon.
Lira dragged the dazed shepherd to the door, pushed him out into the night, and turned to confront his drinking buddy and sparring partner. “You, too. Out.”
The second shepherd cast a forlorn look at the table where half a glass of ale still stood. “Aw, I was just—” He took another look at the bartender’s face, shut up, and went out into the night.

You’ll have to get your copy of Tick Tock, A Stitch In Crime to find out how Lira handles her other job! You can pre-order and copies will be available May 1. Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads! Join us on Facebook


  1. That tide had to go in and out at just the right time, and you did it!

  2. The story was very atmospheric.
    A great angle on the prompt.

  3. I really liked Lira. She didn't put up with any crap.

  4. Your excerpt is awesome--can't wait to read more! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Interesting excerpt. Sounds like a great story!

  6. Love it! Lira sounds like a fabulous character!!!

  7. It's sounds awesome! I love a strong female character. Can't wait to read it.

  8. Lira, had no fear. Great story. Well told!
    My beach walks depend on the tide. Great character for your story.

  9. I love the word, "sotted." It's perfect here. Great to meet your character, Rebecca!


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